Development of Linguistic Sensitivity of ESL Teacher Candidates for Linguistically Responsive Instruction

By Jingzi Huang and Terry Laskowski.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 27, 2014 $US5.00

The field of ESL education has widely accepted the view that language development and content learning are interrelated, and the teacher needs to teach students meaningful academic content while simultaneously developing their English language proficiency (Snow & Brinton, 1997). However, translating such a view of ESL education into classroom practice requires the teacher to be linguistically sensitive to the content materials and learning tasks that the students encounter. While studies exist to show how effective ESL teachers integrate language and content, research attention is limited on how teachers are trained to be equipped with the needed knowledge and skills. This paper, focusing on a functional linguistic approach (Halliday 1978) to teacher development, examines ESL teacher candidates’ development of linguistic sensitivity in instructional planning and implementation for linguistically responsive instruction. It is a classroom-based case study in the form of action research to examine candidates' growth, areas of struggle, and the support candidates need in the process of development. Data in the form of self-assessment, written reflection, instructional planning, field-based teacher work sample, etc. were collected from a nationally recognized ESL endorsement program for pre- and in-service teachers in an east coast university in the US. Designed and implemented instructional activities by the candidates are analyzed to highlight the candidates’ attention to learners’ use of specific language features for learning and demonstrating the learning of curriculum content in K-12 classroom activities. The study provides evidence demonstrating teachers’ growth in both awareness of specific linguistic demand in student tasks and their ability to design and implement subject matter instruction with language development activities. While revealing the struggles and challenges the candidates still face, it also provides implications for non-ESL situations where there is a growing demand for teacher education programs to pay attention to discipline specific communication.

Keywords: theme: literacies learning, Teacher Development, ESL Education, Content Specific Language Development

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 20, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.29-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 27, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 531.522KB)).

Dr. Jingzi Huang

Professor, School Director, Associate Dean, School of Teacher Education, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Broomfield, Colorado, USA

Jingzi Huang holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from University of British Columbia. He is currently the director of School of Teacher Education and the associate dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado. His research has been focusing on classroom discourse, integration of language and content, and mainstreamed ESL students at all levels.

Terry Laskowski

Professor, Communication and Information Studies, Faculty of Letters, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan

Terry Laskowski holds a PhD from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He is currently a professor at Kumamoto University in Japan supervising master’s and PhD theses, teaching English language development courses to undergraduates and TESOL teacher development courses to postgraduates. His present research interests are on a Japanese teacher-based learning development model that is receiving international recognition, known as “lesson study”.